Viewing Author

Entries for 'Gary Pearce'

26
It’s a rite of summer. The House, the Senate and the Governor can’t agree on a budget. They tell themselves that millions of North Carolinians are in suspense, following the latest twist in the budget deliberations like they’re binge-watching Netflix.
 
This year, Governor McCrory and Speaker Tillis decide a bold stroke is needed to galvanize public opinion. They arrange a huge photo op at the Mansion with educators behind and beside them. They unsheathe their sharp sword to cut this Bergian knot: a “split budget.”
 
Yawn.
 
Earth to Raleigh: We don’t care. We’re not paying attention. We rarely pay much attention to you, and we’re paying even less now.
 
It’s summer. The sun is hot, and the days are long. The beach, the lake and the mountains beckon. Next Friday is the 4th, a long weekend. So let’s start now! Pack up the sunscreen, fire up the grill, pop open a cold one.
 
You guys – and it’s nearly all guys – will work it out. Somehow, sometime. The reporters and lobbyists are consumed with how long you’ll be here and how you’ll work it out. We’re not.
 
We’ll get back in a while. We’ll see what you did. And we won’t like it.
 
In the meantime, don’t kid yourselves that we’re paying attention. We’ve already made up our minds – those of us who plan to vote in November. We know two big things: One, you’re hurting the schools and teachers. Two, you want to frack our water full of dangerous chemicals.
 
That’s all we need to know. See you in November.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

25
To quote Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles, “What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?”
 
What is politics coming to when a deeply conservative Deep South Senator rallies black Democrats to win a Republican primary? When a GOP bridge-builder beats a fire-eater? When a big spender beats a budget slasher? When a courtly white-haired DC insider beats a take-no-prisoners Tea Party outsider? When GOP Washington PACs pour big money into turning out blacks and Democrats?
 
We have left the gravitational pull of Earth.
 
Thad Cochrane’s narrow victory was the opposite of Eric Cantor’s landslide defeat. But the cause was the same: Democrats and Independents voting in a Republican primary. Or, as some Republicans might say, interfering.
 
Cantor tried to out-Tea Party the Tea Party candidate. He moved right and lost. Cochrane went the opposite way. He moved left and won. He actually grew the electorate from the primary turnout.
 
Maybe there’s a lesson for those who bewail today’s polarized, hyper-partisan politics. Maybe politics should use some more openness – and competition. Like opening up primaries to more voters. Ending gerrymandering. Even getting more people to vote.
 
The results will be entertaining, if nothing else. 
 
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |

24
A lot of Democrats are “Ready for Hillary,” but is she?
 
The doubts erupted after talked – and talked again – about whether she and Bill really are rich.
 
The Washington Post headlined: “Some Democrats fear Clinton’s wealth and ‘imperial image’ could be damaging in 2016.” It quoted “multiple Obama campaign advisers” saying anonymously that “they fear Clinton’s financial status could hurt her as it did Republican nominee Mitt Romney, whom Obama portrayed in 2012 as an out-of-touch plutocrat at a time of economic uncertainty.”
 
Today the N&O’s Barry Saunders jumped in. He put his finger on the real concern here: not wealth per se, but that elusive political quality of “touch.” He wrote, “Clinton is already one of the most polarizing political figures out there, so every word she utters is going to be parsed for ways to demean, denigrate or disqualify her. With her at-best imprecise language, she is merely providing ammo to those of her detractors who claim she is imperial and out of touch.”
 
This all harks back to 2008. After the fact, a strategist for John Edwards said research showed that Democratic voters had clear ideas about their three then-candidates. They agreed with Edwards on the issues (“Two Americas”), and they agreed that Hillary was best-qualified to be President (and that was pre-Secretary of State), but they just felt good about voting for Obama.
 
Yes, that was partly because voting for an African-American was making history. But so is electing the first woman President. Obama also had a cool charisma that voters responded to.
 
Being likable can take you a long way in politics. And vice versa. Obama himself presaged today’s “rich” kerfuffle in the 2008 debates when he famously snarled, “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.”
 
For all her strengths and experience, Clinton has something of a distant and forbidding aura about her. People who know her say the reality is far different, that she is warm, funny and down-to-earth. But few people get that face-to-face experience. And she suffers by comparison to politicians who exude that “touch” – say, Bill Clinton.
 
She is no doubt ready for the job. But is she ready for the campaign? Are Democrats ready, as they often do, to fall in love with a charismatic challenger (see JFK, RFK, McGovern, Carter, Hart, Clinton, Dean, Obama)?
 
It’s hard to imagine a stronger candidate for Democrats in 2016 than Hillary Clinton. It’s just as hard to imagine Democrats sitting still for a coronation. This is her first test, and they’re watching.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |

22
 The prevailing Democratic view of Governor McCrory is summed up by this bumper sticker a friend saw:
 
My child is an honor student.
My Governor is a moron.
 
But Governor McCrory has a chance to mount his own “Carolina Comeback” in the next few weeks.
 
He could stand up to the legislature – and even pick a fight – on something big.  Especially something big on education: Teacher pay? Common Core?
 
Now, Democrats wouldn’t fall in love with him, although they’d love to see Republicans fighting openly with each other.
 
But Democrats would suddenly start, as the voice on your GPS says, recalculating the route to 2016. They’d suddenly be faced with an incumbent who might appeal to Independents. He might even start looking like one of those rare politicians that voters yearn for, but never find. One who can stand up to both parties.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |

19
Great glee erupted among Democrats over Eric Cantor’s defeat – and also over the embarrassment to his pollster, who had predicted a landslide Cantor win.

Cantor’s pollster is John McLaughlin of New York, a Republican with whom I’ve worked on non-partisan projects. Full disclosure: I like John personally, and I greatly respect him professionally.
 
This week, McLaughlin sent out an email taking the blame and making an effort to understand and explain what happened. He wrote in part:
 
“There has been a great deal of speculation as to why our poll on May 28, was wrong. For this reason we undertook a post-primary survey. Knowing that our May 28, Republican primary voter poll was reflective of past Republican primary turnouts that were significantly smaller, we decided to conduct this study at our own expense to see which voters actually accounted for the much larger turnout in this year's Republican primary. The sample that we used for the May 28, poll was selected from any voter who voted in any one of three Republican primaries - March, 2012 for President; June, 2012 for Congress and March, 2008 for President. 
 
“The Virginia Republican primary system was totally open to all voters. It is now clear that Eric Cantor's national standing gave the race a lot of local interest among many more voters than just past Republican primary voters, including politically interested Independents and Democrats as well. Without a parallel Democrat primary, this election was very similar to a wide-open jungle-style primary. It created an organic turnout of new voters not included in our previous poll of past primary voters.”
 
The post-election survey concludes that Cantor won with Republicans, but the Democrats and Independents gave the victory to David Brat.
 
McLaughlin’s memo is worth reading in full. It takes issue with some widely held views about the result (the role of immigration, for example). And it provides valuable insight into how polls work – and how they can be wrong.
 
It’s easy – and fun – to ridicule pollsters and rejoice when they’re wrong. It’s a lot more useful to learn something about polls and about politics in America today. I salute McLaughlin for how he handled this: with class and courage.
 
And I’m not surprised by that.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |

18
The most startling news of the day came at the very end of Rob Christensen’s column: “Full disclosure. Last year, I signed a contract as co-producer with a major Hollywood producer for a movie that may be made in North Carolina….”
 
Zounds! Stop the presses! This is a bombshell. And inquiring minds demand to know more.
 
What is Rob’s Hollywood blockbuster-to be? “Clark Kent: The Real Story”? You can hear the trailer now, in that ominous voice by the guy who does trailer voiceovers: “In a world where rampaging Republican barbarians trample the lives and dreams of decent, hard-working people, one mild-mannered columnist dares to reveal the truth about their real agenda and the evil genius behind their plot for world domination.” Brad Pitt will play Rob and Jack Nicholson, Art Pope.
 
Hollywood hasn’t called me, so the movie probably isn’t “The Jim Hunt Story.” So maybe it’s a Rufus Edmisten biopic: “Fast Times and High Office.” Will Farrell plays Rufus.
 
Or maybe Thom Tillis. That trailer-voice guy again: “In a world where rampaging hordes of barbarian outsiders terrorize hard-working taxpayers and impose a welfare state tyranny, one man dares to stand up for traditional populations.” Harrison Ford was set for the role, but suffered an unfortunate accident on the set of the new Star Wars sequel. We’re open to casting ideas.
 
Or maybe it’s “The Real Under the Dome.” Again: “In a world where millions turn their backs on the printed page, one newspaper dares to defy the inevitable tide of technology.” Tom Hanks plays John Drescher.
 
Seriously, Rob, you can’t tease us like this. We deserve to know the full story.
 
Alas, Rob’s final words leave little hope: “The project is stalled.”

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Posted in: General
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

17
Eric Cantor’s defeat, immigration reform, gerrymandering and Republican presidential hopes all got rolled up together last week in a classic demonstration of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
 
Cantor’s opponent, David Brat (I love that name), attacked him for being soft on immigrants. That struck fear in the hearts of other Republicans in Congress. That killed all hopes of passing reform this year.
 
That, in turn, spelled trouble for Republicans who want to win the White House in 2016. They not only lose the growing Hispanic vote, but also the growing South Asian vote. Plus, the GOP’s perceived hostility to immigrants and their children also alienates independent suburban women, polls show.
 
All of this, in a particularly ironic turn, stems from the Republicans’ great success at gerrymandering congressional districts. They drew themselves districts that have few Hispanics. The result: Republican members of Congress benefit from immigrant-bashing, while Republican candidates for President pay the price.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |

16
Republicans made great hay in 2010 and 2012 over then-ongoing investigations of Democratic politicians, like John Edwards, Mike Easley and appointees of Bev Perdue. Suddenly the shoe is on the other foot. Such are the perks of high office.
 
Now there are two investigations of possible illegal activity, one involving the coal ash spill and the other, political contributions by the video sweepstakes industry. Both will focus, quite naturally, on Republicans.
 
In fairness, Republicans have good reason to squawk about being tarred, shall we say, with the coal ash investigation. After all, Duke was dumping coal ash long before Governor McCrory took office.
 
But three unfortunate facts intrude. First, McCrory worked for Duke for nearly 30 years. Second, the spill happened on his watch. And, third, his administration has made a great show of relaxing environmental regulations. The result: They own whatever happens.
 
Now we learn there is an SBI investigation of political contributions from the video sweepstakes industry. This one will be hard to foist off on Democrats. After all, political money follows power, and Republicans have the power now.
 
How did a party that is famously anti-gambling end up caught in this mess? The same way the same party bet teacher pay raises on higher state lottery proceeds, immediately after holding their state convention at a casino.
 
Gambling apparently is addictive. The GOP seemed to get a contact high.
 
The investigation comes just as Republicans conveniently conspire to move the SBI from the Department of Justice (run by a Democrat) to the Governor’s Cabinet.
 
Democrats, of course, should raise hell about this. Maybe they should propose appointment of a special prosecutor, a Kenneth Starr to get to the bottom (so to speak) of everything.
 
Or maybe the U.S. Attorney should look into this one, too.
 
Rest assured: Tales of corruption will be on the campaign agenda again this year and in 2016.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |

12
Everybody has a theory about why Eric Cantor lost, one that usually reflects their overall theory about politics: It was about immigration. Cantor was aloof and arrogant. The Tea Party is still a force in the GOP. Voters lie to pollsters. Pollsters are stupid.

Let’s consider another possible factor, one that echoes last month’s primaries in North Carolina: Are voters growing more resistant to traditional paid media?
 
Cantor spent $5.4 million. David Brat spent $200,000. That’s 27-to-1. The usual rules say that if you outspend your opponent 27-to-1, you can relax and drink a latte with lobbyists Election Day (which Cantor did).
 
Another number: Cantor’s pollster reportedly had him winning 62-28. He lost by 11 points.
 
Last numbers: About 65,000 people voted. One analyst said the turnout was 14 percent.
 
Again, I invoke the Thomas Mills Primary Poll Rule: primary polls are unreliable because it’s hard to predict who will vote. Especially with a low turnout.
 
But there’s something more. Cantor dominated the traditional paid media – TV ads and direct mail. He drowned Brat (what a name!) there.
 
But Brat had his own channels of communication: Talk radio (Glenn Beck, Rush and Laura Ingraham), social media and the beehive-like Tea Party grassroots network.
 
The reason big money always beat less money is that money got information to voters. In today’s world, voters – especially interested, involved voters – have lots of ways to get information on their own. And they seem to have less trust in the old ways, like TV ads and direct mail. Especially negative messages.
 
You saw that in North Carolina’s primaries: Robin Hudson’s ability to survive a negative TV assault and Clay Aiken’s victory despite being outspent 2-1.
 
We’ve got smart phones and smart cars. Why not smart voters? 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

11
"This is a miracle from God that just happened." - David Brat, who rocked the political world Tuesday by upsetting Eric Cantor in a Virginia Republican primary.
 
Well, that’s certainly one explanation. A more earthly one came from former Representative Thomas M. Davis III, another Virginia Republican: “There are some very angry people upset with the status quo, and Eric became part of that.”
 
Washington will bloviate all day today about what happened, why and what it means. But let’s look at what it means right here in our backyard, namely for Rep. (Just Walk Away) Renee Ellmers. She’s one Republican incumbent in North Carolina who faces just the kind of outsider challenge that toppled Cantor.
 
Yes, hers is in a general election, from special ed teacher/singer/foundation founder/UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken. But the lesson holds.
 
This is a classic case of an outsider challenging the status quo. You’ll remember, a few years back, when Ellmers won election as an outsider. Then she crawled inside the Washington woodwork and made herself quite comfortable, standing by John (of Orange) Boehner on camera and voting to shut down the government and cut veterans’ health care, while complaining she needed her paycheck.
 
So when you hear the Political Wise Men and Women intoning that Ellmers is safe in a Republican-drawn, Republican-leaning district, remember how sure that crowd was that Cantor would win big.
 
A side note here: Uber-blogger Thomas Mills told me not long ago that he is skeptical of primary polls. It’s hard to predict who will vote, he said. The same thing could be true in this year’s off-year elections, especially considering the conflicting currents of public anger from right, left and middle.
 
Bottom line: Expect the unexpected. And as I’ve said before, don’t underestimate Clay Aiken. 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

Page 11 of 232First   Previous   6  7  8  9  10  [11]  12  13  14  15  Next   Last   
Copyright (c) Talking About Politics   :  DNN Hosting  :  Terms Of Use  :  Privacy Statement